No, not the song about golden rings, true loves, and turtle doves. The history of the 12 days of Christmas.Today the 12 days are equated with a song about buying gifts, but it has not always been so. Nor do the 12 days of Christmas lead up to Christmas as is most commonly understood. Initially, the 12 days were a calendar bridge for the differing dates of the Christmas celebration, December 25 in the West vs January 6 in the East.
By the fourth century, however, we find references to two dates that were widely recognized—and now also celebrated—as Jesus’ birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor). The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; for most Christians, however, December 25 would prevail, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.
So there you have it. There is still time to organize your geese, french hens, leaping lords, milk maidens and the rest of it.Read More »
Readers of this blog know I have a burr under my saddle about chintzy tipping of restaurant wait staff. I asked another server today whether “Bad Christian Tippers” is a myth. He assured me it was real. “I’ve only been here two months,” he told me, “but at the restaurant where I worked before, [called the name of a prominent suburban Nashville restaurant], it was true. I didn’t even believe it when I started, but when I worked Sundays I found it to be true.”
I asked, “Where they just chintzy or were they rude, or some combination?” He replied, “Mostly just chintzy.”
“And they shall know you are my disciples by your chintzy tightfistedness.”
We have been tipping 20% or more on meals for a while. If we do not have enough for a good tip we either eat at home, take out pizza or pay a visit to Chick-Fil-A. Our position is, “A good tip is as much a part of the meal as is the food.”
This whole tipping thing got me thinking: when you can realistically tip less than 20%? While it is a standard we should studiously aim toward, here are ten circumstances when you can tip less than 20 percent and not feel guilty.
1. If he/she spits in your face for no reason. It is within the realm of possibility that your server takes offense at your face and spits on you for no reason. If so, you have permission not to tip 20%. If your criticism of their family, tattoos, heritage or other ignorance incited the spitting you still must tip 20%.
2. If he/she intentionally pours a scalding hot liquid on you. Accidents happen. While painful–even life threatening–unintentional spills are not reasons to lower or omit a tip. Even the most inept server hopes for a tip and will not purposely jeopardize it. If, however, he/she brings over a boiling cauldron of soup, smiles fiendishly and yells, “FIRE IN THE HOLE!!” before dumping it over you, you have permission not to tip 20%.
3. If he/she curses you out. In more than 30 years of eating out, I can count on one hand the number of times a server has even used a curse word in the course of our ordering or in general conversation. If, however, your server commences to turn the air purple with objectionable language directed toward you (because you left a chintzy tip, maybe?), you have permission not to tip 20%.
4. If he/she places your infant in the child seat upside down. This one was on the bubble. Not everyone knows which way is up, and not everyone has experience with infants. To cover the cost of comfort food in the eventuality some trauma is induced on your upended youngster, you have permission not to tip 20%.
5. If he/she has obviously placed hair (not a hair) in your food. A single stray hair can come from anywhere. This is not necessarily the fault of your server. If they return to the table missing the ponytail you see underneath your seasonal vegetables, you have permission not to tip 20%.
6. If he/she makes an overtly obvious pass for your significant other. “Wow, your wife is really attractive,” “Lady, your husband is turning heads in the kitchen,” and the like do not count. Compliments are rare and a heartfelt one should not be diminished. If upon your return from the restroom, you find your server on a knee with a rose in his mouth in front of your wife, you have permission not to tip 20%.
7. Your “rare” ordered steak arrives with the hide still attached. Admittedly this could be the fault of the chef or cook, but the server could slice off the leather and fur before bringing to the table. In this case you have permission not to tip 20%.
8. You get a mixed browns salad. Nothing worse than brown lettuce in a salad. Again, the server should not receive 100% of the blame as they do not buy the stuff. But in this case a good server would have let you know on the sly, “We are out of salad. Trust me, we just are.” Got served a mixed browns salad? You have permission not to tip 20%.
9. If your server makes less than 3 visits to your table. Under most service scenario three visits are required: one to introduce him/herself and take drink/appetizer orders, one to take the meal order, and one to bring the order or check to make sure the kitchen staff brought the order. Any less than 3 visits and it almost cannot count as having had a meal. If you do not get a meal, you have permission not to tip 20%.
10. If you server answers his/her cell phone during your order for any reason other than a family emergency, a game show lifeline, parole officer check-in, or confirmation of new housing. Those warrant no further explanation. If your server is under 18, check-in call from a parent is also allowed, but not a “check-up” call from a boyfriend/girlfriend. Anything else? You have permission not to tip 20%.
Now, tip big or stay home!Read More »
Followers of Jesus who comment on cultural issues: it is time to stop using the B-word. The B-word to which I refer is bestiality.
Part of the ongoing commentary on Phil Robertson’s GQ interview was an exchange I just watched on CNN. The opposing sides were held by Russell Moore of the ERLC and Michaelangelo Signorile from HuffPo’s Gay Voices. Early on the moderator brought up perhaps the most controversial of Phil Robertson’s comments which included a mention of bestiality. From the Phil Robertson GQ article:
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”
What, in your mind, is sinful?
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Godwin’s Law has long been an Internet discussion axiom. The main practical take-away from Godwin’s law is if you invoke a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis you have lost the debate.
In public debate the word bestiality is the new Nazis. It indicates you have no serious argument and should not be given the time of day. Whether true or not is irrelevant; it has the reality. It is not a mic drop; it is an eye-roll.
I think it is time for followers of Jesus to stop using bestiality for moral comparisons in debate. Why?
Stop using the B-word because it creates too large an opportunity for distraction. You can make a cogent case against gay marriage, for instance, without using the B-word. If you use the B-word you will have the argument turned against you or shifted from the focus.
Stop using the B-word because there is no straight line between any single sin and bestiality. Neither smoking joints, adultery, homosexual activity, greed nor back-talking are specific gateway sins to bestiality.
Stop using the B-word because bestiality becomes it comes across as a sad scare tactic. Like Democrats and Social Security or Republicans and terrorism, invoking the B-word plays on fear rather than truth.
Stop using the B-word because there are plenty of more prevalent sins around to condemn.
Followers of Jesus we simply must be smarter. The Lord did say of His time, “The sons of this age are more astute than the sons of light in dealing with their own people” (Luke 16:8, HCSB). Can we just stop perpetuating the lack of astuteness Jesus witnessed? Perhaps not, but we can certainly try.Read More »
The big news from this morning was the GQ interview with Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. In part of a very lengthy interview, Robertson uses rather straightforward language to describe his preferences as a heterosexual male. Part of this description includes reasons he is not a homosexual male. (Think body parts.)Frankly I find concern about that particular section to be absurd. What do people think gay men do, hold hands, give shoulder massages and kiss each other on the cheek? Salty, perhaps, but erroneous, no.
The truly problematic part for Robertson in today’s culture is that he
Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.
This led to the second huge Robertson news story of the day: his suspension by cable TV network A&E from Duck Dynasty tapings. Said the network:
We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.
Methinks A&E is protesting all the way to the bank. Suspend the star but not cancel the show?
How ironic a network that makes millions under the First Amendment guarantees, does not defend it for one of its biggest stars.
Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.
Whether Robertson’s words are “vile and extreme” are up for debate. But, his right to say them? Is that not protected?
The once upon a time guide to TV programming, now apparently a culture shaper, TV Guide could not so much as hide its disdain even in the title of its report: Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Spews Anti-Gay Comments in GQ Profile.
My question is where are the members of the LGBT community who still believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution? Does free speech only count during Pride weeks and Pride parades? Does the right to speak one’s mind only apply to defense of privacy and not to the opposition?
There is a First Amendment. It guarantees freedom of speech. There is a protected right to speak one’s mind, even when it goes against the prevailing thinking. Even when it goes against “tolerance.”
Does the LGBT community believe in the First Amendment for all Americans, or only those who believe like them? There have been many people who have fought and died in defense of the Constitution, in defense of the right of the LGBT community to do exactly what Phil Robertson and many others call “sin.” Many of these who fought and died believed exactly like Robertson. They died to protect the freedoms people with whom they agreed and disagreed.
Time will tell whether gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons fully support the First Amendment or merely pay it lip service. But for now, if you are out there, your voices are not being heard.
UPDATE 2: Comments are now closed.Read More »
In the spirit of the year-end season, here are the Top 13 posts at Kingdom in the Midst as determined by number of page views.
1. Did Starbucks’ Howard Schultz really say, “We don’t want your business?” (This one also had a lot of views when cross-posted at Christian Post.)
2. Schools, sex and degradation: losing the sacred (This one likely had the most shares in social media from Kingdom in the Midst.)
5. Depression: When the black dog howls (This post was, I believe, the most linked-to post of the year.)
8. Sex trafficking: One survivor’s story (This four part series was the most read series of the year.)
Thanks to everyone who read posts this year, commented and supported Kingdom in the Midst through advertising or Amazon purchases. Your participation in this journey is greatly appreciated!
Top 13 graphic by Christie Garrett.Read More »
Following the Facebook play-by-play on my colonoscopy last week, my friend Dan Kassis sent me this poem. Hisfather, Tom, who has also suffered the indignity of a colonoscopy, captured it in verse. You may recognize the meter from ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. You may never think the same way of that poem again.
Tom wrote this for his high school class alumni newsletter. And now, in honor of all those whose gastroenterologist has gone the wrong way up the exit ramp, The Christmas Colonoscopy.
T’was two weeks before Christmas
When I got the bad news.
Five years had passed
Since my ego was last bruised.
How quickly time went by
Since I lay on my side.
And lost all my dignity
When I went for that ride.
So I’m back in this place
and in the very same bed.
With visions of sugar prunes
dancing in my head.
The Fleet did it’s job,
I’m all purged now and prepped.
In angst and trepidation
I await the next step.
When what to my wondering
eyes should appear…
Why, it’s smirking nurse Ratchet
and her scary sneer.
Her assistant was cheery
As she recited my risks…
Now hurting, now bleeding,
Now impacted discs.
I moaned and I groaned
And tried to make light.
But this humorless nurse
just gave me a fright.
She came into the room
Carrying the tube,
A screen on one end,
enclosed in a cube.
It looped ’round her neck
three times I was sure.
She seemed way too eager
to start on my tour.
I pointed past my shoulder
as the tube dragged on the floor,
and suggested in the future
she might use the back door.
She chuckled and snorted
and started her song:
“Believe me when I say,
That’s been the plan all along!”
I voiced a complaint
Then she said with a glare,
“If you say any more
You’ll get the tube that is square!”
With my IV in place
I started to doze
And thought about Santa
As up the chimney he rose.
My doc looked like Santa
And I heard him say,
“Merry Christmas to you,
Up, Up and Awayyyyyyy!”
The End (As it were…)
And to all, a good night.Read More »
This is a problem.
Megyn Kelly is a popular personality on Fox News. In a recent segment, Kelly took up her sword to challenge a Slate.com writer, Aisha Harris’s assertion that Santa Claus should no longer be white. Harris calls for a complete makeover: make Santa a penguin (since penguins are black and white?)
Kelly countered with “For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”
Since Santa is a mythical figure, debating his race seems pretty pointless. Let him be to every child what that child wants: Anglo, Central Asian, European, Africa, Inuit, whatever. Insisting that Santa “is white” seems to be an eye-roller made worse by the fact that a “professional journalist” said it. Suggesting that Santa be a penguin (no representing for the brown folks here) is just as silly. There is at least a historical tie from Santa Claus to St. Nicholas, a Turkish bishop from the 3rd century.
Newly discovered evidence reveals St. Nicholas was not a penguin.
This, however is not the real problem. Around the 1:45 mark, Kelly asserts that Jesus was white!
Huh? To make it worse, her three panelists smile, have no shocked looks, or indicate in any way they disagree. This is bizarre I am not even sure what it represents except a complete disconnect with the historical Jesus. Jesus Christ looked more like this Palestinian resident of modern Bethlehem than a citizen of Utah.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold a general description of Jesus the Messiah:
He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. (Isaiah 53:2, HCSB)
There is no indication from the eyewitnesses of His life that Jesus looked any different than any other 1st century Jewish male. So normal did Jesus look when Judas led the soldiers to arrest Jesus, he had to kiss Jesus to identify Him.
Why didn’t Judas just say, “Go into the garden, hang a left, and arrest the palest dude you see”? Because Jesus was not white.Read More »
Watch the Canadian airline WestJet work a little Christmas magic on a plane full of passengers.Read More »
This week witnessed the passing of a giant. Nelson Mandela was as powerful a man as modern history has known. Irish rock star and social activist, Bono, eulogized Mandela thusly:
Mandela would be remembered as a remarkable man just for what happened—and didn’t happen—in South Africa’s transition. But more than anyone, it was he who rebooted the idea of Africa from a continent in chaos to a much more romantic view, one in keeping with the majesty of the landscape and the nobility of even its poorer inhabitants. He was also a hardheaded realist, as his economic policy demonstrated. To him, principles and pragmatism were not foes; they went hand in hand. He was an idealist without -naiveté, a compromiser without being compromised.
Our nation has lost its greatest son. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.
As one would expect, praises for Mabidi (Mandela’s tribal name) poured in from all corners. Some were captured by this Ugandan news outlet, New Vision.
[W]hen we look at his legacy in terms of the overthrow of apartheid, we recall the fact that Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the most influential theologians in America at the middle of the 20th century, argued that there are times in which certain men, certain historical figures, appear to be historically necessary, even if they are far from historically perfect. That seems so often to be the case in a fallen world. In a sinful world, a world in which every dimension is marked by sin, the most effective political leaders are those who have the strongest convictions; but often those strong convictions and ambitions are met by a somewhat less than stellar character.
Mohler’s article is worth your few minutes.
What sets Mohler’s writing apart from many is his willingness to remind readers that Mandela’s start did not include leadership on the world stage or the presidency of an African nation. Far from it. Mandela’s start as an international name was because he was what we most frequently term, a terrorist. To some this would be crying foul, the soccer equivalent might be pulling a red card on a dead man. Such a complaint might hold water if Mohler were wrong. It would be even more egregious had he not mentioned other of history’s famous terrorists: American George Washington, Zionist/Israelite Menachim Begin and Egyptian Anwar Sadat. (Speaking of historical ironies, all of them committed terrorism against the British. How’s that for world domination?)
It does not absolve terrorists of their tactics, it just raises the point that when we talk about terrorism, character, and historical change, we must think honestly.
Decades and centuries after events it becomes difficult to separate truth from whitewash. Had we lost the Revolutionary War, George Washington would not have been the father of anything. He would have been a traitor, likely hanged, during what current British history books would deem “The Colonial Uprising of 1775.” Because we won, though, we wrote the history and we are heroic in all outcomes.
This is why most Anglo-Americans think little if at all about the Trail of Tears, and multiple massacres of Native Americans until we “blessed them” by allowing them to keep land already theirs or forcing them from their land onto federally provided lands. Native American reprisals would likely have been labeled terrorism by today’s press.
The death of Mandela allows us to think about what it means to be a terrorist, and how the language of terrorism is used to frame political debate.
[pullquote]He would have been a traitor, likely hanged, during what current British history books would deem “The Colonial Uprising of 1775.”[/pullquote]No dominant or winning side refers to themselves as terrorists. Terrorism is a way to designate the other side as the real problem. Ergo, the role of the U.S. and British in the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadeq, remains a coup de tat. But, the student rebellion that overtook our embassy in 1979? Then President Carter used State of the Union to reference the hostages as “victims of terrorism and anarchy.” Terrorists, even when responding to aggression, are always the aggressors and, even when raising legitimate political concerns, are always anarchists. The ability to brandish “terrorist” and “terrorism” are word weapons as powerful as a military incursion.
Mohler’s calling out of Begin as a terrorist is unique among evangelicals, but helpful if we are to see beyond the political strategy of using the language of terror to win PR wars. Begin and David ben Gurion were terrorists according to current usage: from an underdog position, they used violence against the innocent to stir sympathy for their cause. From the view of the British, these were acts of terrorism. But, history looks on these as the fathers of their own country, heroes one and all.
But, the tables were turned on Israel. As their army moved through their newly established homeland occupying ancestral Palestinian towns, orchards and olive groves, some began to fight back. One of them was Yassir Arafat. Remember him? He was a terrorist according to most…but not to Nelson Mandela, who said, “Yasser Arafat was one of the outstanding freedom fighters of this generation, one who gave his entire life to the cause of the Palestinian people.”
Future history may record many now branded as terrorists in our current Middle Eastern milieu as freedom fighters and heroes. Time will tell. One generation following everyone in the world will remember many as heroes, world changers, and giants.
The language of terrorism hinges a door that swings both ways. Branding terrorists is a tacit admission of underlying cause(s) being ignored or instigated by the powerful.
Followers of Christ should not allow the narratives of world events to be dictated by governments or any press, national or international. We must always look for that which lay in the shadows, because it is there the truth is often found.
And so it goes…Read More »